Susan Lehman ’81, a communications executive, editor and lawyer, is the new publisher and editor-in-chief of Twelve, a small and respected imprint of Grand Central Publishing. She has worked over the years as media strategist, writer and editor in the realms of magazines, law, television and newspapers. She served as as an editor at Riverhead Books from 2003–2004.
Twelve has published 39 titles, 19 of which have made The New York Times best-seller list, including God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens and War by Sebastian Junger ’84.
In a recent article in The New York Times, Lehman said she hoped to publish books that are “superbly written, have moral clarity, maybe journalistic rigor.”
Best-selling author Robin Cook ’62 has just released a new novel, Cure (Putnam), which deals with the problematic intersection of big business and medicine, the cut-throat world of medical patents, and stem cell technology.
Cook recently talked to Reuters about writing and his latest thriller, which is set in Japan and New York:
“I have been interested in stem cell issues from the beginning because it is so important. I became more interested when I saw it was going to get caught up in politics and it put us back about 10 years or so. In 2006 when I saw you could create stem cells without having to use anything to do with embryos I saw that as an immense breakthrough and I have been surprised how little the general public knows about that. Stem cells will revolutionize medicine although it is being pushed back by politics and religion now.”
Three acclaimed books by Wesleyan alumni were on theNew York Timeshardcover nonfiction best seller list in August. They include: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach ’81, a detailed, often funny examination of space travel; War by Sebastian Junger ’84, a powerful look at the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan; and Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson ’03, a witty account of the making of the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Laura Fraser ’82 wrote the May 28 “Modern Love” column for the New York Times. In “Our Way of Saying Goodbye,” Fraser traces the role of the Italian farewell, “ci vediamo,” or, “we’ll see each other” in her long-time, but sporadic, relationship with “The Professor,” her sometimes-married lover.
She writes that earlier on, the words served as affirmation that “he would always stitch in and out of my life, and that this stitching was slowly mending my heart.” Ultimately, it again allowed the lovers to avoid “goodbye,” when he is diagnosed with liver cancer.
Fraser’s memoir on their meeting, An Italian Affair, details the healing that this love provided soon after the end of her 18-month marriage. It was published in 2001. The sequel, detailing her life in the years after their affair finally ends, All Over the Map, was published June 1, 2010.
In a recent article about the book in New York magazine, Mary Kaye Schilling writes: “A fascination with fascination is one way of describing Wasson’s interest in a film that not only captures the sedate elegance of a New York long gone, but that continues to entrance as a love story, a style manifesto, and a way to live…Wasson wanted to know the reason for its cultural longevity, and once he started asking, the inevitable answer was Audrey Hepburn. But something about the idolatry bugged him. ‘Hepburn has become a near-saintly figure, untouchable. That didn’t sit well with me. I thought there was a human being there who needed to be looked at.’ “
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, “a single woman with an active sex life,” which “was suddenly a condition to aspire to.” Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to be cast in the film because he thought Monroe
Many families with a child with autism or Asperger Syndrome feel that involvement in the community is not for them. In Lisa Jo Rudy’s new book, Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun!: How Families of Children With Autism or Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most Out of Community Activities (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, May 2010), Rudy ’81 offers a rich and varied menu of suggestions for how such families can take full part in community life and support the strengths and interests of their child at the same time.
Rudy explains that informal learning experiences can be the key to self-discovery, communication, self-confidence, and even independence for many children on the autism spectrum. This book will open the door to community inclusion, creative exploration, and social learning.
Rudy is the mother of Tom, age 14, diagnosed with PDD-NOS — an autism spectrum disorder. She is also a professional writer, researcher and consultant. Lisa and her videographer/photographer husband, Peter, live in Massachusetts.
Rudy holds a B.A. in the humanities from Wesleyan and a Master ’s Degree in Divinity from Harvard University. She is the author of more than a dozen trade books for children and adults.
Carolyn Parkhurst ’92 made a huge splash on the literary scene with her first best-selling novel The Dogs of Babel. She has just published her third novel, The Nobodies Album, and it has already received several positive reviews in such publications as The New York Times,The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weeklyas well as on NPR.
The protagonist of the novel is Octavia Frost, a famous best-selling novelist who is also known to be unpleasant. As she is about to deliver her latest manuscript to her New York publisher, she finds out her rock star son Milo has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. The book presents the chapters of Frost’s latest book and it also takes her on a journey in San Francisco to find clues about the crime.
In his Washington Post review, Art Taylor writes that The Nobodies Album is “not just a book about a novelist in action, it’s also a meditation on writing itself and on the curious intersections between the imagined world and the real one. … the book succeeds in probing nuanced issues of guilt and innocence through an intricate collage of memories and musings.”
In her survey of summer crime novels for NPR, Maureen Corigan writes: “The great pleasure of reading The Nobodies Album arises out of keeping track of the constantly shifting relationships among a small group of paranoid people quarantined from the rest of society by their fame.”
For Globe staffer Jenn Abelson, Maguire outlines the message behind his Boston-based blog, which also serves as a platform to launch his book-in-progress and is gaining some wider media attention. His goal is to increase civility in our day-to-day dealings with each other, in general, and with those who work in service industries, in particular, where people are often treated with little respect. The customer, he says, is not always right, and sometimes deserves to be “fired.”
However, he does not abnegate responsibility for those in the service industry to set a pleasant tone, and he praises the businesses that exhibit great service and hospitality. “Hospitality and service are a mindset and a culture,” he notes.
Maguire says the core message of his book and blog consists of three items:
That the customer has almost as much to do with the success of every customer service interaction as the service worker.
That the customer, especially the abusive customer, is often dead wrong.
That all of us are responsible for serving each other with mutual respect and civility.
Erika Goldman '81 is editorial director at Bellevue Literary Press, which published Tinkers.
This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, Tinkers by Paul Harding, was a bit of a surprise. The book had gotten excellent reviews (though it wasn’t reviewed by The New York Times) and was pushed by independent book sellers. But it was far from a slam dunk for a prestigious literary prize.
Even more surprising is the publisher, Bellevue Literary Press, where Erika Goldman ’81 is editorial director. This is the first small publisher to release a Pulitzer fiction winner since Louisiana State University Press published A Confederacy of Dunces. Bellevue Literary Press is part of New York University’s School of Medicine and specializes in works that explore the convergence of science and the arts, with a publishing schedule of eight books per year, or four a season, three being non-fiction and one a novel. The full-time staff consists of Goldman, a veteran editor who previously worked at Scribner and Simon & Schuster, and an assistant.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “a Pulitzer was not something Goldman campaigned for or expected, and she’s still digesting what the award will do for Bellevue. ‘I hope it means when we publish book, people will take a closer look,’ she said. ‘It’s great to get this recognition but we’re still modest in our means. We’re not going to be playing high stakes with the big guys.’ “
Bill Shapiro ’87 has edited an entertaining and often fascinating book, Other People’s Rejection Letters (Clarkson Potter), in which he has collected 150 rejection letters sent to famous and ordinary people and presented exactly as they were written.
The letters included are surprisingly varied, sent by text message, e-mail and by the U.S. Postal Service, and messages are handwritten, typed, illustrated and scrawled in lipstick and crayon. Alongside letters rejecting Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol and Jimi Hendrix, readers can peruse notes from former lovers, relatives, would-be bosses, potential publishers, universities, Walt Disney Productions, the pope and even “the Private Office of His Majesty the King.”
At the end of the book, Shapiro offers the stories behind several of the letters and an update on some of the recipients. Some of them serve as lessons and inspirations.
Amy Bloom '75, appointed as the Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence, read from her latest book, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, April 13 in New York City at "A Conversation with Amy Bloom '75 and President Michael Roth '78." The event was sponsored by the Wesleyan Club of New York and the Wesleyan Writing Programs. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)
Amy Bloom ’75, a distinguished writer of novels, short stories, nonfiction, and projects for television, has been named the Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University. Her appointment takes effect July 1.
Bloom will have an office in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.
Bloom will enhance Wesleyan’s curricular offerings in writing by offering two courses per year, and she will serve as a senior thesis advisor. She will have an office in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.
“Amy Bloom is one of the most accomplished writers in the United States today,” says President Michael S. Roth. “Her insight, her creativity, and her deep understanding of the craft of writing will be a great benefit to our students. The writing community at Wesleyan is prolific and strong, and Amy Bloom’s presence will add to that vitality.”
Bloom is the author of two novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction book. She has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in TheBest American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad.
Growing up, Steve Almond ’88 secretly desired to live the life of a rock star but after taking piano lessons he realized he had no musical talent. Though he didn’t become a musician, he became the next best thing: an obsessive music fan, particularly of rock and roll—or what he calls “a drooling fanatic.”
Almond’s new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life (Random House), recounts his love for music from his earliest rock criticism to his devotion to obscure bands to his meeting with Erin, a former heavy-metal “chick” who became his wife. As he has shown in his essays, fiction, and best-selling nonfiction book Candyfreak, Almond is a highly entertaining and very funny writer. This time, he shares his interviews with some of America’s finest songwriters, a recap of visiting Graceland stoned, an examination of why depression songs can make us feel better, a reluctant exegesis of the song “Africa” by Toto, and much more.
Earlier this month, Vanity Fair interviewed the author. When asked why vinyl is so superior to digital music, Almond responded: “The sad thing is, it’s impossible to talk about anything related to music and technology anymore and not sound old. You bring up CDs and most people are like, ‘What are those?’ Pretty soon even talking about the iPod is going to be like ‘C’mon, Gramps. Get out of the basement, man. It’s 2013. Nobody listens to those anymore!’ Technology has made fogies out of everyone. But when it comes to LPs, I think the real complaint from purists is that we don’t listen to music in the same way anymore. I remember listening to Songs in the Key of Life or Mind Games, whatever it was, while sitting on the floor of my parents’ living room and reading the lyrics from the album sleeve and just being immersed in those songs. There wasn’t any other narrative going on. It was just me and whatever the music was making me feel, period.”